Friday, April 07, 2017

It was wrong for America to bomb Syrian airfields

Mentioning an apparent chemical attack in Syria that has killed dozens, the U.S. has launched an air strike against some Syrian government airfields near Homs. There are reports that ISIS launched an offensive near Homs soon afterwards – and Christians are likely to be the targets. If true, it means that the Pentagon has basically provided Daesh with an air force.

So much for Trump's promises to focus on Daesh as the main enemy. (See these 2013 Trump tweets against a U.S. attack against Syria.)

These developments are terribly disappointing and indicate that Donald Trump is very unlikely to bring rationality to the U.S. approach to the Middle East. We shouldn't hope that he will stop the string of U.S. interventions in the region in recent years that have basically led to bad outcomes only. And indeed, there may be reasons to be worried that these matters will become even worse.

There exist some detailed claims that a group linked to Al-Qaeda and George Soros was behind the chemical attack that is said to be a false flag operation. I am far from certain. It sounds as a conspiracy theory. On the other hand, the very claim that Assad's government still had chemical weapons sounds highly controversial, too. Note that the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons began in 2013 and sometime in 2014, John Kerry stated that the process had been successfully completed.

Well, it's plausible that the government has stored some chemical weapons somewhere. But there are many other reasons to doubt the "Assad story". In particular, it's just plain irrational to bomb civilians and Assad isn't irrational at all, as far as I can say.

Fine, even if Assad did it, the U.S. reaction is counterproductive. I think that the expectation value of the number of casualties of a similar escalation of the hostilities is much larger than a "few dozens". So even though we can't be sure what will happen, the expectation is that the U.S. commander-in-chief has decided to kill a greater number of people than whoever is responsible for the chemical attack.

So far Trump hasn't killed anybody – the attack was targeting machinery and infrastructure, we're told. (Correction: Trump has killed a dozen – about the same number of casualties that were used as a justification for these strikes.) Maybe he just wanted to please the American public whose big part has been brainwashed by anti-Assad propaganda for many years. But this isn't a good enough excuse because there was nothing unavoidable about the attack and Donald Trump, not the American public, is ultimately the main person who is responsible for it.

Needless to say, the attack has had unsurprising negative consequences for the U.S.-Russian relations, too. Syria isn't Russia so this isn't really a declaration of war on Russia, just to be sure – almost no one in Russia really cares what happens to a Syrian airfield. But it's a bad development, anyway, and it has some potential to become much worse.

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